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Niger’s ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum has won the presidential election with 55.75 percent of the vote, beating former President Mahamane Ousmane, the electoral commission said on Tuesday.

Opposition candidate Ousmane picked up 44.25 percent, Issaka Souna, chairman of Niger’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), said in an announcement attended by senior officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

After winning the first round in December by 22 points over Ousmane, Bazoum was endorsed by the third and fourth-place candidates in Sunday’s runoff.

The vote marks the first transition in the Sahel nation from one democratically elected leader to another following Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou’s decision to step down after serving two five-year terms.

On the campaign trail, Bazoum pledged continuity with Issoufou’s policies – and even hired Issoufou’s son as his campaign manager.

His opponent, Ousmane, on the other hand, cast himself as a candidate for change, focusing on corruption allegations particularly on the defense ministry’s handling of contracts.

Security is a major issue in a country affected by two of Africa’s deadliest conflicts – one near its western border with Mali and Burkina, and another near its southeastern border with Nigeria.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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